The inability to obtain an adequate erection for satisfactory sexual activity can tank your self-esteem and stress your marriage or relationship. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is more common in men over 50, but it can occur at any age. It affects the quality of life of over 30 million American men and their partners. Unfortunately, ED is more than a bedroom problem because 70 percent of cases result from debilitating or potentially fatal physical conditions. ED also is twice as prevalent in men suffering from depression.
Getting a proper diagnosis is vital to catch and treat any related physical and/or mental conditions. Your doctor also can determine if an ED prescription like Cialis (Tadalafil) is appropriate for you, but your daily habits also can make a big difference. Research shows lifestyle modifications can help you overcome ED.
The Various Causes and Symptoms of ED
A study of 810 men aged 35 to 80 found 31 percent developed erectile dysfunction over a five-year period. The major risk factors were physical rather than psychological conditions. They included being overweight or obese, having a high alcohol intake, difficulty sleeping, having obstructive sleep apnea and age. The results showed that modifiable lifestyle factors helped 29 percent overcome their ED issues naturally.
Researchers noted that erectile dysfunction can be a marker for underlying cardiovascular disease, often occurring before heart conditions become apparent. Besides addressing risk factors such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and diabetes, they concluded better nutrition, weight control, exercise, reduced alcohol consumption and adequate sleep are likely to improve sexual ability and health.
According to Harvard Medical School, other causes include atherosclerosis, kidney disease, neurological disease, prostate cancer and vascular disease. Research shows that men who exercise 30 minutes a day are 40 percent less likely to have ED than sedentary men.
Watch What You Consume
Avoid the following foods that can lead to ED.
Sodium. Eating sodium-rich food increases your blood pressure and decreases blood flow to your organs. Skip salty snacks, pickled foods, bacon, cured meat, cheese, salt and soy sauce.
Oily and saturated foods. These choices increase your risk of high bad cholesterol, which affects blood flow to your organs. Avoid meat (especially processed meat), fish oil, hydrogenated palm and coconut oil, butter, eggs and whipped cream.
Trans fats. Fried and packaged foods containing trans fats can clog your arteries. Decline chips, french fries, margarine, cookies and cakes.
Sugar. Poor blood sugar control can lead to blood vessel and nerve damage that may hamper sexual performance. Boycott sugary drinks and treats.
Alcohol. Researchers report a glass of red wine per day is fine, but other alcoholic drinks can lead to erectile dysfunction.
Inadequate blood supply to the penis can cause ED. Counteract that problem with foods that promote circulation.
Antioxidants in watermelon. Studies show that watermelon’s antioxidant phytonutrients relax the blood vessels that supply erections.
Lycopene in grapefruit and tomatoes. Boost circulation with lycopene’s antioxidant phytonutrients.
Nitrate-rich vegetables. Several case reports show that nitrate vasodilators open up blood vessels and increase blood flow. Good sources are beet juice, celery and spinach.
Zinc in oysters and other shellfish. The zinc mineral plays an important role in testosterone production. Low levels of this male hormone can lead to ED.
Proteins in pistachios. According to a recent study, men with ED who ate pistachios every day for three weeks experienced significant ED improvement. These nuts contain arginine, a protein that may help relax blood vessels.
Flavinoids in dark chocolate. A recent study found that dark chocolate’s natural flavonoid antioxidants improve circulation.
Practice Good Dental Hygiene
A study of 30- to 40-year-old non-smokers without systemic diseases compared 80 men with erectile dysfunction against 82 without erection problems. Findings showed that 53 percent with ED had inflamed gums compared to 23 percent in the control group. ED improved significantly three months after men treated their periodontal disease. Dentists recommend professional cleanings and gum disease treatment along with daily brushing and flossing.
Bacteria cause chronic periodontitis (CP), a group of infectious diseases that involves gum irritation and swelling. Gum disease can trigger inflammation that may result in erectile dysfunction. Many studies show that CP can induce systemic vascular diseases including coronary heart disease, an ED risk factor.
Try Natural Remedies
Research indicates these over-the-counter supplements may benefit ED patients. Before taking natural remedies, ask your physician about possible drug interactions.
DHEA. Testosterone is essential for sexual functioning. Studies show supplements containing DHEA, a hormone your body converts into testosterone, can alleviate ED.
Ginkgo biloba. Because this ancient Chinese herb increases circulation, it may improve sexual performance. A study reported ginkgo biloba was 76 percent effective in treating antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction.
Ginseng. Research indicates red Korean ginseng, a stimulating herb, improved ED, perhaps by promoting nitric oxide synthesis.
L-arginine. This amino acid increases nitric oxide, a compound that dilates blood vessels in the penis. Studies found that L-arginine supplementation improved ED in men with abnormal nitric oxide metabolism, low urinary nitrate and inadequate nitrite levels.
Niacin. According to a study, taking niacin for 12 weeks improved ED in men who also had high cholesterol.
Enhance Your Sexual and Overall Health
If you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction, see your doctor right away. Because of the vascular disease connection, ED may be an early warning sign of a more serious problem like high blood pressure or heart disease. Whatever the cause, upgrading your lifestyle can help you overcome ED and enhance your overall health.